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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Stock certificate made out to James Levi in 1907. Photo courtesy: Dr. Darryl Mozena
IDAHO AUTOMOBILE AND ELECTRIC TRANSPORTATION COMPANY. It was 1908 and four Dubuque residents thought they had a great way of making money. S. H. Avery, H. L. Avery, Frank Roeder and H. L. Ireland decided to form a bus company. They purchased two four-seater, 12 passenger buses from the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company of Pontiac, Michigan at $1,500 each and began charging nickel fares.

The vehicles were powered by 20-horsepower, two cylinder opposed engines which, to those mechanically-minded, looked like a flattened v-shaped engine. The brass headlights were powered by acetylene gas and the boarding steps doubled as fenders. Main and Iowa STREETS were the only two covered with brick at the time and Fourth Street was macadamized. The hard rubber tires and the rough streets made travel--an experience. Passengers boarded at 7th and Main and then followed a route down Iowa to Fourth where the bus crossed over the MISSISSIPPI RIVER to East Dubuque.

Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald
Weather proven no deterrent. Duck flaps clipped to a wooden frame protected passengers from howling winds and Isinglass windows allowed viewing the trip. The only competition was the hotel man from East Dubuque who operated a horse-drawn bus service. The Idaho bus operated on a thirty minute schedule.

Parties wishing to charter a bus for a trip to Cascade or a picnic would be driven by one of the company's stockholders. The second bus maintained the local schedule. Good weather brought an end to the East Dubuque service; people enjoyed the ride on the ferry boat. The company moved its operation during the summer to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for sightseeing. It is not known how long the company was in existence.



1. 'Sputtering Buggy' Pioneer Intercity Bus," Telegraph Herald, March 4, 1951, p. 17